Manchester is third Mass. city to ban plastic bags

Environment Massachusetts

On April 2, Manchester-by-the-Sea became the latest town in Massachusetts to ban plastic bags, with over a two-thirds majority vote at the second night of the Annual Town Meeting. The ban will go into effect on Jul. 1 2013, and prohibit retail establishments from dispensing plastic checkout bags, encouraging the use of paper, biodegradable, or reusable bags for an optional fee.

The seaside town voted to ban one of the most common forms of litter found in beach cleanups – last year’s beach cleanup found over 5,000 pounds of plastic bags on the Massachusetts shoreline, the third most common piece of litter found – and one of the most harmful items to ocean wildlife, killing hundreds of thousands of marine animals each year. Environment Massachusetts’ recent report “ Top Ten Facts about Plastic Bags in the Ocean ,” documents the harm that plastic bags can do to ocean wildlife, including the endangered leatherback sea turtles that summer in Massachusetts Bay. 85 percent of sea turtles are injured or killed by plastic bags in their lifetimes.

“Environment Massachusetts applauds the decision taken by Manchester residents,” said Environment Massachusetts Regional Director Johanna Neumann. “We hope the rest of the state will soon follow Manchester’s lead to protect our ocean from this destructive trash. Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute the ocean for thousands of years.”

“The good people of Manchester by Sea have sent a clear signal that a brief moment of convenience isn’t worth several lifetimes of harm,” said Representative Lori Ehrlich (D.- Marblehead), “As communities around the state step up, it bolsters my bill’s effort s to address this scourge statewide. The time is now for Massachusetts to join a long list of countries, counties, cities, and towns around the world that have already done so.”

Manchester, now the third community in Massachusetts to ban bags (joining Brookline and Nantucket Island), sets the stage for a statewide discussion on the bag ban as the State House considers two bills that would make Massachusetts the first state to ban plastic checkout bags.


Environment Massachusetts is a statewide, citizen-based, environmental advocacy organization working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier future.